halo wars

Is Halo Wars 2 on the Horizon?

Is Halo Wars 2 on the Horizon?

2009 was an exciting year for Halo. Not only were we seething with excitement for Halo: Reach (regardless of whether or not we liked the final product), we also got to play our first Halo games that not only took us outside of the Master Chief’s story, but one of these games also brought us past the realms of a first-person shooter.

Released on March 3, 2009, Halo Wars had a bumpy ride in both development and in release. Bungie condemned it with the accusation of it “whoring the franchise”, and Ensemble, the developers of the game, even closed down following its release. In fact, Halo Wars wasn’t even a Halo game throughout a good chunk of its development — Microsoft felt that the only way to give it a chance at success was to put “Halo” in the title. Upon its release, Halo Wars was both praised for its exploration of the early days of the Human-Covenant war and how it was among the best console-based real time strategy games ever, but hated by many for both the fact that it was a console RTS to begin with and the many drawbacks that it suffered.

However, despite its shortcomings, Halo Wars was very successful in its field. And because of that success, there is much evidence to believe that 2009 and issue #6 of Halo: Escalation will not be the last we will see of the UNSC Spirit of Fire and the crew that inhabited it.

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Among this evidence, the largest piece took place on October 31, 2013, where Phil Spencer, the manager of Microsoft’s Xbox division, had quite the info drop on what the news was on Halo Wars. An article on that interview by IGN.

Let’s dive into that interview. The first thing to be noted is that Spencer publicly mentions the future of Halo Wars in the first place. When someone high up in such a reclusive organization mentions a potential future project to the public, it’s never without reason. As for what Spencer specifically outlines, there’s quite the future for Halo Wars and console RTSs. And so, let’s break the article down into bite-sized pieces:

“Halo Wars is] something I’m very interested in. Bonnie [Ross, General Manager of 343i] and I talk about it quite a bit,”

So it’s a popular idea for them, and frequently discussed among the top end of the totem pole. Going back onto the public mentioning rule, not only has Spencer mentioned the future of Halo Wars in the first place, but he’s also going straight to telling us that it’s a big deal among the top ends of 343 Industries.

“I think Halo Wars falls in the shadow of the Halo FPS. I mean, you’re doing 10 or 12 million units of the Halo FPS, anything else that comes out Halo that doesn’t hit those numbers, it’s kind of easy for certain people to look at it and say, ‘Well, that didn’t work.’ And I don’t think that’s the right measure of success; I think Halo Wars was a high-quality console-based RTS game. It was fun.”

Spencer goes from telling us that it’s an interest for 343 to helping clear up some misconceptions about Halo War’s sales that would normally cause people to snicker at the idea of making a sequel.

“And especially now, when I think about some of the capability — you might roll your eyes at this — but when I think about some voice and other things that you could add to that, that’s the kind of gameplay that I think would be great in those scenarios. And also a game that maybe I could play on multiple devices: I could play on Windows as well, I could play on console, because it has that gameplay that lends itself so well to that.”

Now we’re seeing what Spencer says will make Halo Wars 2 a success and the opportunities that it would provide. There looks to be a bright future ahead, and again, the Public Mention rule runs wild.

“So I suspect you’ll see us do something with…they’re kind of busy right now at 343, which is good, we’re really happy with what they’re working on. But I think there is opportunity for us to do something more with that franchise and Bonnie, Kiki [Wolfkill, 343 executive producer], and Josh [Holmes, creative director] are doing a great job in thinking holistically about the Halo franchise.”

This is where Spencer brings up the then unannounced Halo: The Master Chief Collection. They’re happy with it, they’re dedicated to it, and it and Halo 5: Guardians took precedence over additional side projects (minus Halo: Spartan Strike). Now that Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out of the way, 343i is probably going to start planning out their next project. And, seeing Spencer’s responses here, I think that Halo Wars 2 is on the horizon.

And IGN’s article isn’t the only string of evidence.

During E3 2014, the Phantom Dust trailer shown on [date] included a bird glimpse of a picture of promotional art for Halo Wars upon a billboard within the trailer’s footage. Those who noticed this, myself included, quickly came to the assumption that this was a direct hint to a Halo Wars 2 announcement that we thought would happen the following day.

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However, in response to the growing confusion of Phantom Dust’s trailer, Frank O’Connor made the following post on the NeoGAF forums:

Frankie states that Halo Wars being seen in Phantom Dust’s trailer wasn’t indicative of Halo Wars 2, but when given further questions on his response, this was the result:

When reading Frankie’s response, my first assumption was that “read what I wrote carefully” was his usual professional sarcasm that he displays on NeoGAF. However, upon proceeding to read the actual question that he was responding to, the question accusing him of denying Halo Wars 2, my assumptions changed.

The first phrase of Frankie’s clarification on the Phantom Dust trailer was “not at the moment.”

“Not at the moment.

We can’t be entirely sure that it’s the case, of course, but it’s fair to say that “read what I wrote carefully” is referring to him saying “at the moment.”

In the story department, there’s much room for a Halo Wars 2. As I said earlier, the Spirit of Fire appeared in Halo: Escalation.

However, its condition in Escalation was far different than how we saw it in Halo Wars’s ending. Not only is it drifting towards a seemingly habitable planet, but it’s got a bit of a nasty surprise in its depths…

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The first thing to wonder is how did the Flood get there. And then, many will ponder over why the cryotubes that once held the crew of the Spirit of Fire are empty. Did they become infected? Did they escape? Are they on the planet? Are they now part of a Proto-Gravemind?

Let us just know that Escalation could have just as easily resolved the thread that Halo Wars’s Legendary Ending left hanging. However, instead if closing the arc, we get a plethora of new questions and above all, a cliffhanger.

So is Halo Wars 2 on the horizon?

With all of the evidence compiled and analyzed, it’s not a stretch to assume so. However, when we’ll see it is anyone’s guess.

— Andycu5

Posted by imendicantbias in Blogs, The Library, 1 comment